Heart rate monitoring
The clue to the biggest addition is is in the name. The new Alta will have heart rate tracking. Fitbit has been able to reduce the size of the hardware needed for its PurePulse heart rate technology by 25%, enabling it to be introduced into the smaller form factor that is the Alta.
In addition to continuous heart rate monitoring, PurePulse adds automatic exercise recognition and sleep tracking, eliminating any need to press a button and scroll through a menu to add these activities.
Fitbit Alta HR and sleep
Another boost to the Fitbit Alta HR is in the area of sleep tracking. With the help of the PurePulse tech, the Alta HR will add a tool called Sleep Stages to its tracking and reporting mix.
Using data from the accelerometer and heart rate tracking, the Fitbit Alta HR will help identify the various stages of your sleep, namely:
- Light sleep
- Deep sleep
- REM sleep
Added to this information is the sleep data Fitbit has been collecting from its user base – 3 billion logged nights of sleep. This data will, along with your actual sleep data, combines to form what Fitbit calls Sleep Insights. It will see you receive messages and prompts all with the aim of improving your sleep, plus your recovery and performance. Examples of these prompts include:
- “There seems to be a strong correlation between your sleep and your runs. The last 10 weeknight logs show that you had 20 mins more restful sleep on days you ran vs. days you didn’t.”
- “A lack of sleep can increase your hunger hormones. So if you’re looking to lose weight, make sure you’re logging enough ZZZs.”
- “You slept an average of 9hrs 30min this weekend, which is substantially higher than your weekday sleep duration of 5hrs 40min. That swing may be a sign that you’re not getting enough sleep during the week.”
These insights are reminiscent of information that users of the Jawbone UP fitness trackers receive. And over and above simple step tracking, its information like this that will see fitness trackers provide a more holistic view of the wearer’s health.
“Alta HR and these powerful new sleep features demonstrate our continued focus on evolving our innovative technology to deliver deeper, more actionable insights to help our users improve their health,” said James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit.
“From helping maintain a healthy immune system, to preserving your cognitive functions and managing a healthy weight, your sleep – or lack of – plays a critical role,” said Dr. Allison Siebern, Stanford University and Fitbit Advisory Panel Expert.
“Fitbit’s new sleep features use a scientific-based approach to show your sleep patterns over time, and provide you with validated, actionable guidance to help you make changes in your daily routine to achieve greater quality sleep – and in turn improve your overall health. Given the comfort and accessibility of this product, it’s one of the most valuable and useful sleep tracking solutions available to consumers outside of a sleep lab.”
Both Sleep Stages and Sleep Insights will be added to devices in Spring 2017. In addition to being added to the Alta HR, Sleep Stages will also work with the Fitbit Blaze, and Fitbit Charge 2. Sleep Insights will be available with all Fitbit devices that track sleep.
Fitbit Alta HR price and availability
The Fitbit Alta HR will go on sale in early April 2017.
Pricing is as follows:
- Alta HR with classic band in black, blue gray, fuchsia or coral colors — $149.95
- Special Edition Alta HR, available with soft pink classic band with 22k rose gold plated tracker, or with black classic band with matte gunmetal tracker — $179.95
- Additional bands: Classic fitness bands, $29.95; Luxe Leather bands in brown, indigo and lavender with matching buckle, $59.95; and Luxe Metal Bracelet, $99.95
The future of Fitbit
The reduction in hardware size, plus its recent acquisition of smartwatch company Pebble, should result in a busy near future for Fitbit product releases.
“The miniaturisation of our PurePulse heart rate technology opens up exciting opportunities for future generations of devices and new form factors. Our advances in sleep will provide millions of users around the globe accessibility to invaluable insights that previously could be obtained only through expensive lab tests.”